Oil those wheels and stand in line

Laura Lucas

Laura Lucas

The third annual Battle of the Wheels will be held at the Brookings skate park on Sept. 13.

“Last year was very riveting and exhilarating,” said Anthony Castillo, a senior advertising major, who competed last year.

Royce McDaniel, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, is the coordinator and founder of the Battle of the Wheels. McDaniel said when he first moved to Brookings, he was excited to have a skate park in town. It is good to have a place to legally skate, he said.

When McDaniel started working at Sioux River Bicycles & Fitness shop, he started talking about competitions with other skaters who came in the store.

“I talked to people who skated [at the park] and people who came into the store and found out that nothing goes on,” he said, “People would drive to other towns to do competitions.”

McDaniel then began to inquire about a skate competition. Since the city owns the skate park, he asked them first. “The city said no one would show up,” said McDaniel.

He then asked the city if he could get money for the park and hold a competition, and they approved.

The first competition was held two years ago. About 60 to 70 people competed in that inaugural year, and last year, there were about 100 people.

“This is one day that brings everyone together and is a lot of fun,” said Cale LaQua, a senior mechanical engineering major who has competed every year. “People come from all over.”

According to McDaniel, people have shown up from Fargo, Sioux Falls, Mankato and various other towns in surrounding states.

Just as people from many different areas come to the competition, people of many ages also compete. “The youngest competitor last year was seven and the oldest was a woman named Teddy who’s in her late 30s,” said McDaniel.

During the competition, there are three events and three levels in each event. There is skateboarding, in-line skating and BMX sections. Each section is divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. The events are also judged by three people.

“This event opens peoples’ eyes to skateboarding,” said Castillo. “The competition shows the community that skateboarding is a good activity.”

The competition would not be held if it weren’t for the sponsors.

“I called corporate companies and told them I was with a non-profit organization. Most were happy to help out a local competition,” said McDaniel. Some corporate sponsors include Element, Silver, Grind Kings, Dog Town, UPS and Papa Johns.

The corporate sponsors not only give money, they also give prizes. According to McDaniel, they are giving away BMX bikes and seven autographed skateboards in this years raffle. Some top-name skaters, including Ryan Sheckler, Ryan Rodrigues and P.J. Ladd, signed the skateboards, complements of Plan B.

There are several local sponsors too. “The bike shop is a main sponsor, and I couldn’t do this without the city of Brookings,” said McDaniel.

The first year up to $5,000 was raised. Then the city pitched in $15,000 and built the half pipe. According to McDaniel, the city also brings out the bleachers and portable toilets for the event.

Daktronics has also contributed over $15,000 to the skate park. “All the money goes towards the skate park,” said McDaniel. “All I have to do is contact the city with what we want, and they will purchase things for us [the skate park] tax free.”

One goal of the competition is to try and bring all skaters and bikers together. According to McDaniel, there are people who will drive to Sioux Falls to purchase skating items.

“I hope to have a skate shop open in Brookings in two years,” he said. “I would like there to be a local shop. I had a skate shop in the bike shop for two years, but it didn’t last.”

Another goal of the competition is to try and get more girls involved.

“I would love there to be more women skaters,” said McDaniel. “If there is a girl interested in skating or biking, I’m more than willing to help set her up with what she needs.”

There is a $10 entry fee and the cut off time for signing up is just before the event. Also raffle tickets are $1. People can also pre-register at the bike shop or online at www.501main.com. The competition will start at 1 p.m. and end “whenever it gets done.” According to McDaniel, last year the competition ran around four hours. Everyone who competes is also required to wear a helmet.

Anyone wanting to help out can contact McDaniel at the bike shop or at the competition. “I need as many volunteers as possible. The more help the better,” he said.